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Skimping on Carbs

If tallying carbs and keeping them low was your M.O., you might have easily gone overboard. Carbohydrates are a source of concentrated energy so contrary to some beliefs the ideal is not to eliminate them at all costs. Carbs are a rich source of B vitamins and contribute to skin, hair, eye, and liver health. They also help regulate appetite and keep the brain and nervous system running optimally.

"Skimping on carbs can throw the body out of balance because something it needs isn't showing up for work," says Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, a Florida-based dietitian.

Too few carbs may lead to increased appetite and insatiable cravings. And severely restricting carbohydrates can cause you to eat too much fat -- think a whole jar of nuts in one sitting.

If eating a low-carb diet equals eating lots of saturated fat and cholesterol-heavy foods, these can increase your risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer, Sass tells WebMD.

It could also up your risk of diverticulitis, an infection in the pouches within the colon, because of the lack of dietary fiber typical on low-carb plans.

The quick fix is to jump on the veggie bandwagon ASAP. Strive for five to nine servings of produce per day to boost intake of disease fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. This will also increase fiber, as a typical serving of fruit or vegetables contains 2-3 grams of fiber.

Read labels to keep saturated fat, hydrogenated fat, and cholesterol to the USDA Dietary Guidelines limits, which is 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day from food, 10% of total calories from saturated fat (about 22 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet), and as little hydrogenated fat as possible. Hydrogenated fats come from liquid vegetables oils, which are converted into solid form during manufacturing. They are used mostly in processed baked goods, such as cookies and cakes, and can help increase the shelf life of many products. But these fats have a negative effect on cholesterol, increasing "bad" LDL cholesterol while lowering "good" HDL cholesterol.

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